1. Perception is Reality. Customers decide whether (or not) to do business with a company based on what they see, hear and feel about them. These emotionally-driven responses are based on and directly related to the branding messages a company sends out at ALL levels. Your brand is the experience your customers have with you, from how the phone is answered, to your visual identity to your charitable contributions. So if you think you haven’t got a brand, think again. And if you think any of your company’s activities don’t affect your brand, think again.
2. Its All Connected. There should be cohesive links between who your company is, who your company wants to be, how your customers see your company and how your employees see the company. If your staff and executive team champion and embody the brand, this links become stronger. If not, the brand becomes diluted, and less effective at every turn.
3. Lead, Don’t Follow. Branding is a way for companies of all sizes to achieve a high level of awareness amongst their customers and competitors. A strong brand can differentiate a business so that it stands out and is top of mind. Likewise, a weak brand – one that doesn’t compel or persuade, or is not memorable in any way — creates confusion and is often quickly forgotten.
4. Spread the Word. Most executives know their company’s values and brand message, but often they fail to make sure that everyone else (their customers, their employees and the community) knows them too. The result? A weak brand that conveys different messages inside the company and out in the marketplace.
5. Size Doesn’t Matter — Consistency Does. No matter what your budget, use the same color palette, fonts, design, tone and message throughout all your marketing materials. This includes EVERYTHING from business cards and letterhead to the web site to promotions and tradeshows.
6. One IS Enough. A singular look on ALL sales and marketing materials, creates a unified, consistent marketing message. Find one look or message that describes your business and stick with it — it’ll build trust.
7. Keep It Simple. The most effective strategies are the simplest strategies – plans that your customers can fully understand and become engaged in; plans that they can relate to and that move them emotionally; plans that make a connection with them.
8. Take It Step-by-Step. The four key components of brand strategy: identifying core values and your Unique Selling Proposition, creating a focused brand message, developing a distinctive brand personality, and developing and deploying a plan that wholly embodies your brand.
9. Leave it to the Professionals. Put away your clip art and concentrate on your business. Microsoft Publisher and Photoshop LE may be cool, but if you use every trick the software offers, your company will end up looking unsophisticated, unprofessional and messy.
10. Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day. Branding is not an overnight short-term solution, but a long-term commitment. If implemented correctly your company’s brand will grow stronger with time and consistent usage. Companies that embrace this strategy successfully bridge the gap between what they offer and what their most profitable target market values.
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